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Success of the FreeRBMT 2011 workshop

The second edition of the International Workshop on Free / Open-Source Rule-Based Machine Translation Systems, organised by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) with the support of EAMT and held in Barcelona on January 20th and 21st was a great success. The workshop served as a meeting point for some of the international experts in the field. Among those who attended the workshop were internationally renowned names such as Luis Padró and Aarne Ranta who conformed our panel of invited speakers. They and the 27 participants who attended the workshop have shared experiences and progress of various research projects in the field of Free/Open-source rule-based machine translation systems. Initiatives such as this workshop help to share knowledge and are a meeting point for experts in a field in continuous evolution. Sharing knowledge and experiences from researchers and experts are key elements for developing machine translation systems based on rules and, somehow, the reason for this second edition of the workshop.

The program committee, chaired by Juan Antonio Pérez-Ortiz and Felipe Sánchez-Martínez both members of the Transducens group at the Universitat d'Alacant, received 16 papers from 14 different countries. Among them, ten papers were selected and finally included in the proceedings and the workshop program which was divided into two days. Each day began with a conference from a renowned international guests. The first day it was Aarne Ranta from the University of Gothenburg who gave a talk on the MOLTO project. The second day it was Lluís Padró from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya who gave a talk on FreeLing and the importance of Free/Open-source tools to help developing systems in this field. The figure of participation was 27 people, surpassing the attendance of the first edition held last year at the Universitat d'Alacant.

The Opening session featured speeches from Josep Maria Duart (Vice President for Graduate Studies at UOC), Luis Villarejo (member of the Learning Technologies Office at UOC), Felipe Sánchez Martínez (co-chair of the FreeRBMT'2011 program committee) and Jimmy O'Regan (from the Apertium community).

The series of lectures given in this workshop are available at the workshop's website. These lectures provided various viewpoints and experiences within the field of free/open-source rule-based machine translation systems. For instance, Tihomir Rangelov presented his experience in the translation system between the Bulgarian and Macedonian. Joanna Ruth and Jimmy O'Regan reported on similar experiences but regarding another pair of languages, Czech and Polish. Xavier Ivars, Xavier Ribas and Victor M. Sanchez-Cartagena. presented the case of Softcatalà, Which until a few months ago, offered a translation service based on a proprietary closed system and explained the experience of migration to an open-source rule-based translation system such as Apertium. Among the conclusions of the workshop, it was highlighted that systems are getting better and better but languages are living, changing, with millions of nuances that a computer cannot always decipher. The workshop also served to talk about hybridization as the main trend in the field of research in order to seek convergence between statistical and rule-based systems. And how to combine them as the main challenge. Regarding the workshop, and inside the closing round table that was organized, it was proposed to expand the focus of the workshop for the third edition for which Aarne Ranta expressed his interest in organising it in the University of Goteborg. The proceedings of the workshop were printed and a copy was given to each attendant. In addition, the proceedings have been made available trough UOC's Open Access Intitutional Repository and through the Machine Translation Archive. Regarding the social part of the workshop, on the first night, the organising committee took the attendants through a gastronomical and cultural route along Barcelona's old town. To sum up, we can say that the second edition of the workshop has been a success. A success both for the quality of papers presented, the relevance of invited experts and the good response and feedback obtained from the audience. Participation has increased compared to the first edition and the third edition has already started to walk its way towards Goteborg.

Luis Villarejo
On behalf of the FreeRBMT'2011 organising committee
Barcelona, February 23rd, 2011.